I feel like I must have missed something with this book, considering the almost universal praise it’s received! To me, everything about this book was fine. Not terrible, but not outstanding. Just fine. I read and watch a lot of crime drama so I guess I have fairly high standards? Don’t know! I did enjoy the way Harper created the vibe of a small country Aussie town though. I think that if you’re Aussie or have lived here for any length of time – whether you were born here or not – everyone, and I mean everyone, knows the danger of a live flame in the bush during fire season. Harper creates and draws upon our collective dread of the ‘dry’ really well and it felt real and convincing, as well as providing an eerie threatening backdrop for a set of pretty gruesome murders.
A bunch of friends and family have been asking how they can read ‘Broad Hatchet’, my short story from the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize. The edition that it’s printed in is 224, but you can just read the story and judge’s report online now, for free! Yay. If you really feel like forking out the print edition is available at indie bookstores like Readings, The Paperback, Hill of Content, etc, and also from the Overland website.
The runner-up stories are AWESOME – ‘Acorn of Sadness‘ by Ashleigh Synnott, which started off in quite a humorous tone, took me to a dark and upsetting place that I was in no way expecting. I still feel weird and disturbed, three days after reading it (in a good way). Ben Walter’s ‘All Hollows‘ is beautifully written, also darkly comic, and focuses on the existential crises / insomnia of three trick-or-treaters (or real monsters – can’t tell!).
The rest of the journal is cracking, too, as always.
This is a really beautiful book. It’s a slow burn, and the story is not so much plot driven as it is an extended and poetic meditation on origins, both in terms of family (ie. what we inherit from our parents, whether we can escape their influence or not), but also our evolutionary biological origins as humans – and the origins of life or existence itself. The Salamanders is published by Transit Lounge (who also published Black Rock White City by A.S. Patrić, winner of this year’s Miles Franklin) so it was no surprise to find the writing was of high quality.
Oh, what a lovely book. I picked this new release up while I was in in Scotland last month – it’s written by a Scottish musician and was released through a local press. Darkly comic, coarse, and witty, the story is told by John, a young Scot who feels listless after attending art school in London; he returns to the Scottish countryside just outside St Andrews to stay with his old pal Stevie who works on a local farm. It’s primarily a story about the lads’ friendship – getting over the initial awkwardness, learning to be pals again after years apart- but also about belonging somewhere, or trying to belong somewhere, and trying not to disappoint people, or places.
Um…opened up my email this morning to find I had been announced the winner of the Overland VU Short Story Prize, after finding out two weeks ago that I had been shortlisted! I can’t really believe it, but what an incredible honour. Overland is such a wonderful journal. And also – big thanks to the judges AND to Overland and Victoria University for supporting emerging writers! So very encouraging. My story, ‘Broad Hatchet’, along with the full judges’ report and two stories by the runners up, will appear in the next edition of Overland, which comes out in about two weeks. I also get $6000 prize money (like WUT?!?!). Goes to show how dedicated these organisations are to supporting writers in their work.
The judges said: ‘Broad hatchet’ takes the classic Australian short story – pioneer mythology, man versus landscape – and reshapes it…[it’s] ‘intimate, subversive and finely wrought’. I’m pretty gobsmacked by their kind words.
Congrats too to runners up Ben Walter and Ashleigh Synnott – can’t wait to read their stories, which will also appear in the September Overland.
And of course special thanks to my babes Alexis Drevikovsky, Ash Hanson, Stu Harper, Elanna Nolan and Meaghan Young for all their feedback on early drafts of the story 🙂
I was so totally stoked to find out my short story, ‘Broad Hatchet’, about a chick who builds a cabin in the Australian bush (or at least tries to), has been shortlisted for the Overland VU Short Story Prize from 500 entries. Overland is one of my favourite Australian political and cultural journals so I feel pretty honoured. Winners announced in a couple of weeks – fingers crossed! The other shortlisted stories sound great so I look forward to reading the winning tale.
This book is unsettling and upsetting – in a good way. It basically traces the workings of a young woman called Joy’s mind after her partner dies suddenly. Her grief quickly becomes extreme depression (and perhaps psychosis, though it’s not made clear), and she also struggles with alcoholism and social anxiety. We don’t learn a whole lot about her partner’s death (just enough to understand that it happened and was traumatic for Joy, narrated through brief and disjointed italicised flashbacks) and so the focus really is on the inner workings of Joy’s mind.